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Friday, November 25, 2011

Chatting with Debbie Williamson about her Books, Journals of The Big Mouth Bass, Keeping Secrets, and her memoir Stand.

I was born in SLC, Utah. My parents moved to Southern California when I was three and that is where I spent my childhood.  I moved back to Utah when I was sixteen and still live there. I have four children, eleven grand children and four loveable schnauzers. I married the love of my life, Gary Williamson, in October of 2000. I love to read, garden, sail, travel and occasionally give a whack at golfing just so I can remember humility. I frequent Santa Rosa, California, I have grandkids there and I am grateful I can get to them whenever I feel the need to see them. I love the ocean, when I was a teenager I would swim out to meet the dolphins on their daily routine passing by. When I have free time I love to curl up in a corner with a good book and a cup of tea, and indulge. Reading has always been special to me; I love how you can go so many places and never leave your home. Learning is endless when you read.
Tell us about the genre of your work.
Ages eight to eleven is my genre; my main character is nine and will be age eleven at the end of the series. There are older characters as well as younger ones just so all kids can connect with the stories.
Why did you choose this genre?
Most of my experiences that were adventurous happened at the age of nine to eleven in my childhood, along with most of my fears, learning curves and many other lessons.  Journals of The Big Mouth Bass are related to my childhood I took all my stories and elaborated a touch, giggled a lot, and cried a little.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Journals of The Big Mouth Bass, Keeping Secrets, and my memoir Stand.
What ages do you direct your books?
Journals is directed to ages eight to eleven. Kids share the same experiences growing up and I wanted them to know they were not alone in the way they feel.
Can you tell us about your new book?
Journals Of The Big Mouth Bass, Keeping Secrets  ISBN: 9780980123418,
Debbie Bass just celebrated her ninth birthday. While she thought most of the presents were somewhat lame, she loves the journal that her mother gave her. Debbie has always had trouble keeping secrets so she has decided to write all of her secrets in her new journal, addressing every entry to God. She figures that there is a good chance that God will not tell anyone what she is writing! Join the fun as Debbie lives up to her unfortunate nickname and shares the trials and tribulations of growing up. From trying to be more girly (and failing miserably) to exciting adventures with her brother and the neighborhood kids, to facing humiliation at school, Keeping Secrets is a heartwarming, funny, and very real book about growing up female. Kids everywhere are falling head over heels for Debbie, a girl who is as honest about her red hair and freckles, lack of girlfriends, and being picked last for dodge ball as she is about her first crush and the fact that she just cannot keep a secret.
Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
I wanted kids to understand they are not alone in the way they feel, the books are meant to teach kids to like who they are and the way they look, to understand fears, secrets, closet monster, friends, growing up and changing, journal writing and what it can give to you, excepting things in life that you have no control over. Moreover, understanding experiences can always be used for good in life. Last and probably the most difficult lesson is saying goodbye when we lose someone we love. This was an early lesson for me, and one I will never fully understand, but I have learned to except and love for what it is along with the unbearable pain that comes along with it. This memory as a child was terrifying for me and I want kids to know that they are not alone, that all of us have felt this pain and if we have not yet we will before we leave here. Learning to embrace it is a powerful lesson.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
They are all from my childhood; each character and place was real for me and still makes me giggle. Finn, Beamer, Bro and Jesse were very real so was chopper.
How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books (If you have more than one)?
I grow up again along with them and they develop along the way. Each of them is very close to my heart and have very real personalities that are related to multiple friends I had as a child. I sort of mixed them up together and watch them grow and change as I write.  Debbie was easy, she takes after me!
Is there a unique character?
Yes, The Big Mouth Bass, Debbie. She is the main character. She tells her story and relates all of her fears, worries, happiness and experiences as she writes in her journals. Dell, Bro, Beamer, and Finn are also throughout the series, not as prominent as the first book but they are there.
What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
My favorite thing is the trouble that The Sunnyside Gang seems to find. It still makes me smile! The lessons in the books are very important to me. But most of all, I think sharing all the mixed up feelings kids go through. I wanted them to know it was ok to feel the way they do.
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
I was introduced to my illustrator through my editor, Bethany Brown. Tom Rybarczyk, he is wonderful. We started the process with several phone conversations and he not only got me mostly he got my characters and they came alive with his magical pencil. Tom is brilliant, easy to work with and passionate about his work. I am very grateful for his work.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I have to put myself in a nine-year-old frame of mind. It is not only fun but also an experience I hope every adult allows themselves to remember, being nine. It is a fun experience walking down memory lane laughing about the things you used to do and the trouble you got into. This has its own set of issues for me this year. I said goodbye to my love last July after a long battle with cancer. Having a broken heart makes it nearly impossible to find the child within. When I was writing the first two books Gary would sit with me and giggle as we shared the antics in which the Sunnyside Gang found themselves. He was my inspiration in writing Journals and I am searching for that these days. I know he is here with me but it looks and feels different.  When the day comes to write again I know Gary will be there giggling as he always has been.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 
Of course, publishing a book as a new author is a beast. Gary researched publishing with me when I had finished my memoir. He found a company, The Cadence Group, online and they assisted me in publishing my first book. I still go to them with new work. My editor, Bethany Brown, is with The Cadence group and I adore and trust her.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I started writing when I was a child, but never seriously until the age of forty when my grandmother told me to write a memoir. It was laughable to think of myself as a writer but something inside me kept nudging and before I knew it, I was writing.  Gary used to tell me writing for kids was my calling; I still get nervous when I give a nine year old a copy of my book.
What is your writing schedule?
Writing and schedule do not fit together in my world. Creativity comes when it is ready and never on demand. Patience is a must and when creativity comes, you go with it. I like to be in a place of beauty when I write, somewhere that will inspire the creativity to keep coming. I take notes on napkins, my mail, whatever is at hand when ideas come. You could be anywhere so being ready is no more than making it work whenever or wherever you happen to be. This inspiration, creativity, messages that come sometimes when you least expect them too could be a book of its own, most embarrassing moments of writing...
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am working on the second book of my memoir. It is an emotional journey beyond anything I ever wanted in my life. However, I take it as it comes and try to be thankful for every moment even the heartbreaking ones I would give anything not to have in my life. The love I have had in my life has been such an enormous gift. I will do as I promised myself and finish this book. I also have the last three books of Journals of The Big Mouth Bass to finish, the ideas are in my heart somewhere and I look forward to the day I can write them again.
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Never give up! If you believe in your work, keep moving forward and do not let anyone tell you you are not good enough.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Do not get caught up in the mechanics of writing so much. Although grammar is important, there are so many wonderful editors out there. Grammar to me it is an afterthought as it is very apparent in my writing. Tell your story, good storytellers are rare and beautiful. Mostly, believe in your work and believe you are worthy of being anything in life you choose to be.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
I travel, work in my garden, read a lot, walk with my schnauzers, visit with my grandkids spend time at the beach, and every now and then I need to go out and remind myself that I stink at golfing.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes always remember that life is what we make of it so make it fun and full of love. Anything is possible if you believe it to be so.  Love who you are!
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
The most profound "Made It" moment in my life was my marriage to Gary.  The second is watching my grandchildren interact with their parents.  Getting Journals Of The Big Mouth Bass published was a very difficult journey for me. Gary had left this world and I always believed he would be here with me when it was published. I had a dream about my book one night a few months after he was gone. I woke up the next morning and called Amy at The Cadence Group and told her "LETS DO THIS.” Yes it is a "Made It" moment but one filled with mixed emotions. When it becomes a Disney show, I guess I will scream out “MADE IT!!!”
You can find out more about Debbie and what she is doing on the following links:


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